The Italian virtuoso pianist, composer and intellectual, Ferruccio Busoni, is mainly remembered for his magnificent works for piano, which are some of the most ferociously demanding in the repertoire.Devoted to the music of Liszt and later in life to Bach, Busoni wrote much that is beautiful, complex and ground-breaking.
The Seven Elegies put into practice the ideas contained in his controversial pamphlet, the Sketch of a New Aesthetic of Music, which highlighted the limitations and fragility of Western music, and promoted a new musical language incorporating avant-garde devices such as bitonality and quarter-tone harmonies. The Elegies created a furore, with its disorientating tendency to switch between major and minor mode within the same musical phrase, but is a visionary masterpiece. The Fantasia Contrappuntistica, Busoni’s best known solo piano work, is a contrapuntal fantasy on Bach’s last unfinished work, Die Kunst der Fuge, almost a reinterpretation of Bach for the 20th century. It remains one of the most impressive works in the entire piano literature, a monumental undertaking that stretches the possibilities of composer, instrument and performer to the limit.
Sandro Ivo Bartoli is one of the most exciting pianists of his generation, and is a leading interpreter of early twentieth century Italian piano music, particularly Casella and Malipiero, as well as Busoni.